During one gloomy autumn night, her husband, Walters Bates arrival backs home for dinner turns into a night of misfortune. In the short story, Dour of Chrysanthemums D. H. Lawrence uses Elizabeth Bates inner conflict to portray the theme of isolation. Throughout the story, the author uses elements such as, symbolism and imagery to represent the isolation Elizabeth Bates suffers.
In the story, Lawrence uses the symbolic dark setting to emphasize the theme of isolation. “ She opened the door once more and looked out across the darkness of the lines. All was deserted: she could not hear the winding engines” (Lawrence 4). Early in the setting Elizabeth waits out by the gate in the dark gloomy afternoon for her husband. As the locomotive pulls up, and the various miners make their way home there she stands with no sight of her husband. Another setting is when Elizabeth and her kids are eating dinner “ The room was busy in darkness with the crisp sound of crunching’ (Lawrence 4). Although the author uses the word “ busy” his aim is to describe a dark room filled with silence.
Another use of symbolism is when Elizabeth says, “ They will bring him when he does come- like a log’ (Lawrence 6). Elizabethan tone shows how lonely and depressed she is about the behavior of her husband, who is never around and does not care about his family or work as she later says “ l know he’ll not go to work tomorrow after this! ” (Lawrence 6). This symbolizes the tension in Elizabethan tone that leads the reader to realize that the family is living in depressing environment with constant loneliness therefore representing the theme of isolation. “ Why mother, it’s hardly a bit dark yet. The lamps not lighted and my fathers not home” (Lawrence 3). Elizabeth is so terrified of the darkness that he gets worried when it is barely dark outside and wants her kids to be home early. Annie also realizes that her father does not care about the family and has left them isolated for long periods of time without any question of their well being.
The author also uses the symbolism of death and unpleasantness throughout the Story, as Elizabeth was not able to associate to anything without being bitter and filled with fear. While she waits for Walter to return home she only thinks about the one time when he returned home very drunk and had chrysanthemums in his pocket. Associating this tit the time Elizabeth is notified about Walter’s death, noticing the two vases of chrysanthemums and how they had a “ cold, deathly smell” (Lawrence 11). This shows that Elizabeth is a very isolated human soul and always has unhappy and fearful thoughts. “ Is he dead? ” once they bring her husband home the first thing she thinks of is Chrysanthemums are considered a symbol of death and Elizabeth keeping them in her house shows her dull and damp personality. She also associated the birth of her daughter Annie and her marriage to the chrysanthemums.
This shows that Walter’s lifestyle had negative effect on Elizabethan attitude and behaviors. Along with the use of symbolism Lawrence also uses imagery to represent the theme of isolation. The author’s dark imagery forms a threatening scene in which the characters struggle. While describing the Bates house Lawrence states “ A large bony vine clutched at the house, as if to claw down the tiled roof” (Lawrence 3). Throughout the story Lawrence uses the comparison of humans to shadows, this gives the reader an impression that the characters are slowly isolating themselves even though they are going on with their daily lives.
In the Story the use of fire is portrayed as a threatening force. Towards the beginning of the story the author mentions some flames that are rising from the coal pit as “ red sores licking its ashy sides, in the afternoon staging 1). Warmth and light in the Bates house was brought through the use of fire, but it was always a conscious threat to the characters as they felt danger and isolation that was brought by the darkness. The title and its relation with Chrysanthemums show imagery itself. “ It was the chrysanthemums when married him, and chrysanthemums when you were born, and the first time he brought him home drunk” (Lawrence 6).
As the reader we see that the flowers have a very negative impact on Elizabethan life, which leads her to being an isolated human soul. Elizabeth keeping a vase of the flowers shows her mixed feelings towards them, which both resent and embrace all the awful moments that were brought with the flowers. It is clear to see that Walters behaviors made Elizabeth a victim of them, which obligated her from seeing her own possible role in the relationship. We can also see by what we have been told that Walter also felt isolated in his marriage because he was unseen by Elizabeth. The biggest theme of isolation plays in role when Walter dies because Elizabeth is widowed and is completely isolated then she had been before. From reading the story the reader is made aware of Elizabethan disillusionment with life. It is clear that Elizabeth lives a very lonely and fearful life.
Not only the contrast between Elizabeth and her surroundings tell us this but also the contrast between Elizabeth and her relationship with her husband. These context clues of Elizabethan life lead the reader to come across the theme Of isolation.
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